After a turbulent year that’s seen lineups change and the band deal with their own lives head on, Milk Teeth return to the road this week.
Playing 2018’s ‘Go Away’ and ‘Be Nice’ EPs in full for the first time, the group are getting ready to start the next chapter. “It’s a send off to the EPs. I’m super proud of them but we're going to move onto different things because its a different band now. It’s the final hoorah,” smiles Becky.
The shows aren’t the only thing the group are doing though. Before each gig, they’re holding a Self-Care Session and raising money for BEAT (the UK’s Eating Disorder Charity). We picked up the phone and asked Becky to tell us all about it.
Hey Becky, your Self-Care Sessions sound brilliant but why are you donating the money and not keeping it for yourself?
“I’d never feel ok charging for somebody to meet me. I understand why other bands do it, it’s not always easy to make money in this industry but I don’t want people to pay for my time. I would rather they hang out with me and if any money is raised, it goes towards something positive.
“It’s been quite a negative year for us. I wanted to give back and bring something positive out of a shit year. BEAT have been in my life for 15 years and it’s self-care week when we’re on tour, so everything just fell into place.”
So why BEAT?
“They’re really important to me. I’ve had three different forms of eating disorders since I was 12. That’s 15 years and it took me 10 years to even get to a point where I thought I should probably try and get help, which I think is quite common. My mum used the services when I was particularly bad as a teenager and found them so helpful. I wanted to champion them because they're so ahead of the game. Message boards, 24/7 phone lines, web chats, I wish I had them ten years ago. They're really thinking outside the box, not just in terms of the people that are ill but the people that are living with the illness indirectly too."
And what do BEAT do?
"Primarily, they have support lines which are open 365 days a year but they're not cheap to fund. They cost £7700 to run for one week. Not through the NHS’ fault but the health service fails most mental health illnesses, including eating disorders. The fact that BEAT are there and it’s somebody at the end of the phone, or on a message board, that can talk you through things that they understand as well is a god send. The fact that’s free is amazing, but they need support to keep that open."
Why’s it so important to have somebody on the end of phone you can talk to?
"When I was at my worst, I lost so many friends and the illness completely isolated me. It wants you on your own. It wants just you and it. It doesn’t want other people around interfering or trying to challenge it. Just being able to talk to other sufferers, it doesn’t feel as if you're just some person having strange thoughts with no one else around that understand it. It makes you feel slightly less weird. It’s the same with any mental health issues, finding somebody that gets it makes all the difference."
What else can people do to help, beyond donate?
"Spread the word and educate yourself. There are petitions around asking MPs to support early intervention for eating disorders, increase eating disorder training for medical students and junior doctors, and extend the current waiting time targets that exist for CAMHS.
“You can get put through CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) until you're 19 and the support system going through them is much faster, but all the adults who still have eating disorders fall by the wayside and treatment options are much slower. Half the battle with these issues is speed. The quicker they're found and the right treatment is put in place, the quicker the recovery usually is because it's routine. If you've been a certain way for years and years, it’s going to be a longer battle to undo all those behaviours and counteract the illness.
"Over the past two years, there has been more talk about eating disorders and mental health in schools which is good but I think it's still that very narrow conversation around anorexia. There's still a long way to go."
And why is self-care so important?
"In regards to eating disorders, the whole thing in your head is about self-punishment and the idea that you don’t deserve to look after yourself. You don’t deserve nice things. I’d say that carries through, even now. I’m recovered and I struggle. It’s that self-deprecating feeling that you're not good enough, you don’t deserve that. Self-care is about challenging that. People with eating disorders deserve to pamper and look after themselves. People with mental health issues deserve to pamper and look after themselves. Everybody deserves to look after themselves, even if it’s just taking an hour out for themselves. It sounds daft because its something so small but it does have such a big impact on your well-being."
Can you see this being the start of something you do more of?
"100%. Start small and grow bigger. I want it to be somewhere where everyone can come and get involved. You're nervous before you put anything out but with me having such a personal tie to it, I’m even more precious about it. I want people to get behind it but I don’t want to seem like I’m banging on. It’s hard to get that balance. People have been really backed it though.
"People seem really excited about the sessions, saying 'I haven’t seen anything like this before'. It’s another reason why we wanted to do it, maybe this will start a potential wave of bands throwing some sort of self-care sessions or looking out for their fans, I think that'd be such a positive thing. If one of my favourite bands did that, I’d be there."